BOCAUE – The Philippines kissed its Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinal bid goodbye as it bowed to Thailand, 1-0, on Friday night at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
The Azkals’ young, makeshift backline had held up until surrendering a late goal against practically the Thai’s bench unit to the dismay of over 3,000 partisan fans at the venue.
The Filipino booters’ fate was sealed after Indonesia scored a 2-1 win over Singapore over at Rizal Memorial Stadium to claim the second and last ticket to the semifinals.
The result thus put an end to the Philippines’ streak of Suzuki Cup Final Four appearances at three as the Azkals bowed out of this edition without a win two draws - after hosting the region’s biggest football tournament for the first time.
Sarawat Masuk proved to be the thorn in the side of hosts as he scored the lone goal that mattered nine minutes before stoppage time, escaping the offside trap and pouncing on a one-on-one situation against goalkeeper Roland Muller.
Needing a win to avoid complications, the Azkals took the fight to the semifinals-bound pressure-free Thais, only to lack precision in the final third once again.
The hosts could’ve still settled for a draw had the match over at Rizal ended up in a stalemate as well, but the Indonesians had other plans as they broke a late deadlock.
“We could’ve won the game in the first half,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said. “Today we had chances, but we couldn’t score.”
“(Thailand) is a country we need look up to. They’re a great football nation,” the American coach added. “The second team they had was still a pretty good team.”
The Azkals thus lost to the same team that tormented them in the Final Four of the last edition.
We showed you our players can play,” Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang said. “We wanted to show how professional we are. we wanted to (take advantage of the) Fifa ranking and show we’re the (real) number one team in Asean.”